For most of us, the flu is a miserable way to spend a few days.
For others, it can be a life-threatening condition, including:
- People 65 years and older
- People of any age with chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart conditions)
- Pregnant women
- Children under 5 years old
- People with suppressed immune symptoms
Keep in mind:
- Vulnerable people can experience complications from flu, including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.
- The flu can make chronic health problems, such as asthma and chronic congestive heart failure, worse.
When is the flu an emergency?
Get medical help when you or someone else:
- Has difficulty breathing or chest pain.
- Has purple or blue discoloration of the lips.
- Is vomiting and unable to keep liquids down.
- Shows signs of dehydration (dizzy when standing, unable to urinate, or for infants, crying without shedding tears).
- Has seizures, is less responsive than normal or becomes confused.
- Has flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and worsening cough.
For kids under 12, get medical help:
- When a child less than 12 weeks old has a fever of 100.3° or higher.
- When a child 3–6 months old has a fever of 102.2° or higher.
- When a child is dehydrated (no tears, making very little urine, drinking very few liquids).
- When a child has labored breathing (such as grunting) with each breath, wheezing, or flaring or widening nostrils with each breath.
- When a child is extremely irritable, seems very lethargic or is very difficult to wake up.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Use a tissue or your upper sleeve—not your hands.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose and sneezing, and before you eat.
- If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. The flu virus can enter your body when you touch something contaminated and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick, to stop the spread of the virus.
- Avoid close contact. Keep your distance from sick people.
- Stay healthy. Get enough sleep, exercise, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
- Fever (usually above 100°)
- Extreme fatigue
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
- Stomach problems (more common in children than adults): nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
More information: CDC Influenza (Flu)